WALNUT CREEK, Calif. – The adoption of potable reuse and the ability to improve water supply reliability is poised to accelerate, as the Water Environment and Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) brings on more partners to help fund research through its newly launched Advancing Potable Reuse Initiative.
In addition to $4.5 million that WE&RF was recently awarded from the California State Water Resources Control Board, water utilities, consulting firms, and other partners are stepping up to make monetary donations and in-kind contributions.
Brown and Caldwell, a leading environmental engineering and construction firm, made a $100,000 contribution in September to support the Initiative’s goal of establishing potable reuse as a solution to the nation’s water supply challenges and as a reliable and sustainable component of integrated water management.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to help make this research possible and advance potable reuse in the U.S. It is through the contributions of the water reuse community that we will achieve our goal of advancing potable reuse across the country. Brown and Caldwell is one of the first major contributors to this Initiative, and their commitment shows tremendous leadership. It is greatly appreciated.”
Melissa Meeker, WE&RF CEO
The Advancing Potable Reuse Initiative will build on WE&RF’s existing water reuse research portfolio and will help policymakers and the public understand the science, economic value, and environmental benefits of recycled water and potable reuse. Under the Initiative, WE&RF proposes raising $4 million in matching funds to address questions in states across the U.S. that are developing potable reuse regulations and/or implementing projects.
Potable reuse programs are currently underway in a number of states, including California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Georgia. Many of these states are considering groundwater replenishment and/or surface water augmentation with recycled water for the first time. In addition, there is strong interest in the potential for direct potable reuse.
“This initiative will have far-reaching benefits not only in California, a state greatly in need of alternative water supply solutions, but in other regions, as well,” said Wendy Broley, Brown and Caldwell water reuse leader. “Collectively, we can make significant strides towards helping communities adapt to water shortages, make their systems more resilient, and diversify water portfolios while reducing environmental impacts.”
The research recommendations put forth by the State Water Board include conducting a literature review on potential health risks of contaminants of emerging concern (CEC) likely to be present in recycled water, improving monitoring of pathogens in raw wastewater, and developing comprehensive analytical methods to identify unknown compounds.
“We are excited to support WE&RF on this work that will have widespread beneficial impacts to the water community,” Broley said. “We take great pride in partnering with industry research organizations like WE&RF, utilities, and regulatory agencies to advance the state of the science and develop practical tools that help advance the industry as a whole.”
WE&RF is also a founding member of WaterXchange.org, a non-profit organization and industry-specific social networking site conceived and developed by Brown and Caldwell. WaterXchange was designed to help utilities, associations, and research organizations better connect and collaborate online. WE&RF plans to share the results of its research on important industry topics, including this potable reuse study, on the WaterXchange and other channels.